The Zander

As you can probably tell by its appearance, the Zander is a close relative to the Perch and is quite often referred to as the Pike-Perch. With its spikey dorsal fin and elongated body, people tend to believe this fish is cross bred, But contrary to popular belief it is not a crossbreed of the Perch and Pike.

Zander Can be Found Up and Down the Country​

You can currently find Zander in several different countries across the globe including, Great Britain, Europe, Siberia, and Kazakhstan. Here in England Zander were introduced in the twentieth century into the Fens. Since then they have grown dramatically in population. They can now be found in rivers, lakes, and canals up and down our country.

A Lot of Fisheries Don’t Like Zander

Although a lot of people enjoy catching the Zander, Here in the Uk they are actually classed as a non-native invasive species, therefore a lot of fisheries don’t like you to return them alive. Luckily for us, there are plenty of venues that these beautiful fish thrive in. The Lunchtime Fisherman’s local canal is one of those venues.

Who is the Lunchtime Fisherman​

David Warren (the lunchtime fisherman) is an experienced dedicated Angler whose passionate about his sport. Mainly fishing his local canal armed with his favourite Realistic Shad lures, if anyone knows how to catch a Zander it’s this man. He regularly outsmarts the Zander as well as Perch and Pike.

He aims to get out after them every lunchtime at work and is usually quite successful at bringing them to the net. I asked him if he had any top tips for catching Zander, this is what he came up with.

1. Location

Number one on his list on how to catch a Zander is ‘location’. Are there any Zeds home? If the Zander are not there, you will not catch them however hard you try. But do not give up there is always hope. Look out for features such as moored-up boats, overhanging trees, and bridges.

These are all places that may well hold fish, they do like a bit of cover like most predatory species. The chances are baitfish will be sheltering in these kind of areas. Where there is bait fish, the Zander won’t be far behind.

3. The Right Rod for Zander

Number three is ‘the right rod’. Does your rod have the backbone to set the hook in a Zeds boney mouth?  The Zander really do have a boney jawline. Quite often you will have to give a strike with a bit of meaning to set the hook. Just make sure you have a rod that can manage this. There are plenty out there nowadays to choose from.  Check out a few of them here.

2. Sharp Hooks are Needed for Zander

Number four, sharpen the hooks. It sounds obvious, but because of their boney mouths, you really do want to use the sharpest hooks you can get your hands on. Let’s face it, you don’t want the ‘big one’ coming off due to a blunt hook. A hook sharpener isn’t a bad thing to have in your tackle whilst targeting Zander.

After all it literally takes seconds to do and could be the difference between a good day and a very bad day. So let’s keep those hooks nice and sharp.

4. Cover More Water

Number four on how to catch a Zander involves some leg work. With most predator fishing it pays to cover as much water as possible, but be thorough. Don’t just do a cast here, a cast there as such.

Spend a little time in each area. I often spend half an hour at a time in a spot if I’m confident Zeds are about. They are also quite partial to being in the margins so it’s always worth a cast or two. To many people tend to ignore the margins. Margins can produce when all else fails, always worth bearing in mind. 

David with a nice little zander

5. Use the Right Jig Head

Number five is for the use of soft lures. Jig heads come in a number of shapes and sizes. Use a jig head to match the depth, flow of water (if any), and wind. The weight of the jig head also noticeably affects the action of the lure. 

If the fish are more aggressive/assertive they may prefer a more erratic retrieve which can be achieved with a heavier jig head. Swap them around a bit until you find what they want on the day. Fish can be fussy buggers. What they love one day, may not be the same as the next. Experiment|

6. Use a Slow Retrieve for Zander

Number six is all about the retrieve. Ok, the retrieve can vary a lot. But for me, this kind stands out amongst the rest and is my favourite style.

Use a steady retrieve with lots of long pauses, drag slowly along the bottom, raise sharply and let the action of the lure and jighead impart movement on the drop, but keep in touch with the lure!! By using this technique I believe you stand a better chance of banking a Zander.

7. Strike Hard at Every Tap

Number seven is to not miss a strike. Zander sometimes take very delicately and won’t let go of the lure if you’re retrieving it slowly.

It is possible to not know the fish is there. So give it a good little strike at every tap just in case.  Due to the boney-type mouth, the Zander has given it a good short sharp strike to bed the hook. Hopefully, the hook is nice and sharp :0)

8. Big Means Bigger

Number eight, size matters. Bigger lures mean bigger fish…. not always!! But often! I find generally this rule works for me quite well. Match the lure to the size of Zeds you believe to be in the swim.

But if the bigger lure isn’t producing try something smaller.  This is only a general rule I follow and doesn’t always work. But it’s seriously worth a try when you are out on the bank.

Top tip: Keep your lures in separate containers. They can have a chemical reaction when mixed together and can cause a melting effect.

9. Don’t Give Up

Number nine is to not give up just because you have caught one fish. If you’re lucky enough to catch One Zed then there’s usually more very close by, so keep going.

Cast all around the area for a good few minutes just to make sure their big brother isn’t close by. The other fish don’t always get spooked, and may still be lying in wait. So another few casts are a must.

10. Ask the Locals

Number ten, get chatting. Local knowledge is worth its weight in gold. If anyone knows how to catch a Zander it will be the locals. Don’t be afraid to ask for some tips off the local fishermen, tackle dealers and bailiffs, etc.

They are not going to give you all the details of their best swims for you to go and hammer the fish out of. But they will more than likely be very glad to pass on some valuable local knowledge.


David is a good Angler who puts a lot of fish on the bank. There is no guarantee by following his tips on Zander that you are going to bag up. BUT now you have an idea on how to catch a Zander there is a good chance they will work for you as they do for him. Hopefully putting a few more Zeds your way.

If you would like to add any tips of your own please comment below. Cheers guys and tight lines.

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